Capsule Review: 2001 Nissan Frontier And The Two Who Got Away

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
capsule review 2001 nissan frontier and the two who got away

“I have something to tell you, but you cannot, I repeat, must not do anything about it.”

“Is it something I want to hear?”

“Yes, it is. But you have to swear.”

“Okay. I swear. Now tell me.”

“Maro is getting a divorce.” Oh. Maro. I remember you, swinging your legs, your perfect profile and staggeringly voluptuous figure backlit by the sun, and I remember you seated next to me, so long ago, in that little gold Nissan truck. Do you remember me?

It was a decade ago. I’d walked away from a business I founded in 1999, leaving my 2000 Saab 9-3 company car with the company. Although it was my company car, I’d had to sign on the lease paperwork when we got it, and that would eventually come back to haunt me in a rather terrifying fashion… but that’s a story for another time. I owned two other cars; a Plymouth Voyager minivan, which I gave to the profoundly Asperger’s-esque partner in my new business, and a 1990 Plymouth Colt, which I gave to the same guy when he lost the keys to the Voyager shortly after forgetting where he’d parked said Voyager anyway. Somehow I’d gone from three cars and a motorcycle to just a motorcycle. I needed a vehicle. Something absolutely reliable and fiscally reasonable.

It also needed to carry some bicycles, because I was making a final run at BMX racing and freestyle. I’d discovered just the right cocktail of medication, meditation, and manipulation to let me ride at a skatepark for up to an hour before my knees fell apart and I ended up huddled in a corner dry-heaving from pain. I ran all these variables through my internal abacus and came up with the idea of a Nissan Frontier XE King Cab.

Finding just the right truck took some time. I wanted the plain black plastic bumpers and I didn’t want automatic transmission or any “popular packages”. I wanted a basic, five-speed, roll-up window truck with a bedliner. My final out-the-door price was about $14,100 from a sticker price in the high fifteens. Seemed like a decent deal.

Almost immediately, I was annoyed by the little Nissan. I hadn’t rolled-up my own windows in years and it turned out that I hated doing it. The truck was noisy and gutless. The seats were back-breakers on long trips to out-of-state BMX tracks. Worst of all, the stereo was abysmal, so I hired a friend of a friend to fix that situation. When the fellow arrived, he turned out to be a friendly, handsome twenty-four-year old fellow with… an absolute stunner of a wife.

Over the next few weeks, I put a few thousand dollars into the stereo and I inveigled my way into the lives of our new friends. They were broke but Mrs. Stereo Installer, whom we shall call Maro, had a taste for the finer things in life. Meanwhile, I had plenty of disposable income thanks to my economical truck purchase. It was a match made in Hell as we dined out night after night, dressed to the nines, first as a pair of couples and then, finally, as just her and me. Our spouses were annoyed by the whirlwind pace of our quasi-courtship. There was only room for two people in this relationship.

There was also really only room for two people in my little truck, particularly after it had a brace of “JL Audio” amplifiers installed. It sounded fantastic and I could almost overlook the idea that I was driving around a crummy little truck when the tunes were cranked. The 2001 Frontier was really just a mild facelift of the original post-Hardbody truck, and although I respected it for being the last genuine small import pickup, I was starting to think that I’d really enjoy something with a little more room for people and a little less rolling-of-the-windows.

A year and about twenty-six thousand miles into my life with the Frontier, I decided to shuck it off in favor of a little Land Rover Freelander. With a four-bike hitch rack, I could take my friends to the races. I’d stop rolling up my windows. I’d have more mobility in the weather; one of the annoying things about being a Midwestern BMX rider is that pretty much every day starts with a car trip somewhere, whether to a skatepark or an indoor track. The Rover dealer offered me the Freelander at invoice minus rebate, but only wanted to give me $6800 for the Nissan. What the hell. I handed it over. Little did I know that, had I held on the truck, I could probably sell it for close to that now. Good-condition Frontiers are worth good money.

Naturally, the new Rover required a much more comprehensive stereo installation… and the Discovery I bought just ten months after that required an even more comprehensive job. Night after night, my young friend sweated in the footwells of crookedly assembled British trucks while Maro and I shopped, dined, listened to music. We held her birthday party at my house. I wrote her resume. She called me and I walked outside to take the call.

One afternoon we were at the Coach store, I was making some ridiculous joke along the lines of, “If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it,” and the saleslady said to us, “You two are the perfect couple. I’ve never seen two young people so in love, and so wonderful together.”

“He isn’t my husband,” Maro replied, eyes downcast.

“Maybe he should be.” She looked at me. And I, dear reader, I laughed. Under no circumstances would I ever divorce. I laughed. With one chance to say something to a woman with whom I rather thought I might be in love, I laughed. Out of conceit, arrogance, nervousness, fear. We walked out silently. Later on that week, the phone rang. It was my installer. In a voice that was close to tears, he informed me that although he valued my business, he could no longer help me with my cars. I pulled the stereo equipment from my last Rover. It’s all still in my basement, packed up where I cannot reach it or think about it too much.

I should have kept the truck. I could use it now. A good small truck is always welcome. And now I hear that Maro is single again, but what would I say if I saw her again? Only the truth; that we were opaque to each other then, and would always be so if we fell together again.

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  • Rob Finfrock Rob Finfrock on Dec 29, 2010

    "Only the truth; that we were opaque to each other then, and would always be so if we fell together again." Jack, for about six years now I've tried in my head to come to terms with my own "Maro." Your line above says it better than I've been able to put together. Hopefully this won't be the final chapter in your tale.

    • Ekaftan Ekaftan on Jan 10, 2011

      A week ago I had lunch with a friend from 22 years ago. My Maro. I no longer liked her.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 30, 2010

    I agree with willman, that there are numerous good matches for us out there; it would be pretty hopeless to think that we have to wander over the earth looking for that "perfect one". I think the same is true of cars. Jack, I like your style. Like you, I've owned a Voyager. Although being married 23+ years to the same girl has been a great thing, I've never owned a Nissan, but may some day. Switching cars is much easier.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?